J’can-born attorney makes difference amid Trump onslaught

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NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — Prominent Jamaican-born immigration attorney Winston Tucker is making a huge impact on the Caribbean community in the United States amid attacks on immigrants by US President Donald J Trump.

The Queens-based Tucker told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that he has established “a very satisfying immigration law practice” that he integrates with caring for his family, engaging in community service, teaching, and media appearances.

Tucker, who considers himself a family and community immigration lawyer, has incorporated his immigration law practice with the ambitious agenda of the Queens-based Caribbean Immigrants Services, Inc (CIS), which he co-founded with his compatriot, Irwine Clare Sr, “to bridge the void created by the reduction in Government services to the immigrant community in general, and the Caribbean community in particular”.

Tucker said his philosophy, shared by CIS, is that “the strength and effective function of family, businesses, communities, and nation are interrelated, and closely correlate to their level of participation in the democratic process.

“As such, the focus continues to be services to the community that will impact their level of participation in their governance [and] improve their economic circumstances, leading to economic and political empowerment,” he said.

He added that this philosophy continues to be relevant “because of the emerging and converging situations that remind the advocates among us that the attacks on immigration/migrant population, those searching for opportunities and socio-economic security, are not over.

“We are reminded that people will continue to gravitate to geographic areas that hold the promise for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They will move to areas that afford them the chance to recover from failed international and local policies and experiments.

“Immigration, therefore, is the responsibility of host and home governments,” he said, adding, “both must be lobbied”.

Tucker said his community advocacy is realised primarily through CIS and its “one-stop-shop empowerment centre” concept.

“This concept — that is taken into the community at home and abroad, through a network of churches, community service organisations, clubs and media — is an example of community empowerment through collective action,” he said.

“This advocacy that pushes legalising the undocumented and naturalising legal permanent residents, in a world where Government downsizing and/or re-engineering is placing emphasis on private enterprise and self-reliance, makes the community outreach efforts of Winston Tucker and The Caribbean Immigrants Services, Inc an important and necessary catalyst for our community, and full participation in the democratic process in the coming years,” said Tucker, who received his Juris Doctor (JD), law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

Clare, who serves as CIS’s managing director, told CMC that he and Tucker, in 1995, formed CIS as “a community-based organisation dedicated to the empowerment of the Caribbean community through acquiring US citizenship, registering to vote and voting”.

Through a series of community outreach, from as far as the New England states to Florida, “we organised churches, civil groups and professional groups to become involved”, he said.

With a large cache of volunteers, coupled with a strong presence on radio, Clare said the message was delivered “far and wide”.

At the time, Clare, recipient of the Order of Distinction (OD) from the Government of Jamaica, said CIS worked closely with the Caribbean Consulate Corps “that gave us access to their respective CBOs (community-based organisations), churches, student organisations, et al”.

He said hundreds of citizenship drives and awareness forums were accomplished, adding that these were “always coupled with updates on the changes in the immigration law and its impact on society”.

Clare said CIS’s relationship back then extended to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as CIS was the first to have naturalisation interviews and swearings-in being done in the Caribbean community in New York.

“As a result of our endeavours, it helped to change the political landscape and attitude towards Caribbean community voting,” Clare said.

Subsequently, he said Caribbean candidates began emerging in seeking elective offices.

In addition, Clare said CIS extended its mission by launching a series of immigration forums into the Caribbean “to inform, educate and with hope of influencing Caricom (Caribbean Community) to have a standing committee on immigration”.

“Whereas we are not as vocal and aggressive on scene as then, we still continue to deliver services of immigration processing, outreach to varying groups and counselling and advocacy,” Clare said. “We are pleased that several thousand nationals are now citizens and making significant impact on their respective communities.”

As for CIS’s future, Clare and Tucker said they will continue to remain relevant with the issues germane to the Caribbean community, “as we work towards building a political block”.

“The community is more economically empowered,” they said, lamenting, however, that “we are still relatively week politically, as we have not fully leveraged our presence”.

“The Census 2020 will be a critical juncture for us, if we are to truly maximise on our investment,” they asserted.

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